KOLONIA, Pohnpei (Marianas Variety, Oct. 31) — A state of emergency was declared Wednesday night by Pohnpei Gov. Johnny David following torrential rains.

David said the Weather Services Office had recommended that he not lift the original emergency declaration issued Wednesday night at the height of the thunderstorms that hit Pohnpei.

Schools, ordered closed yesterday, will remain so until today or until the state of emergency is lifted.

However, David told department heads to order their personnel back to their posts after several government offices were left with only emergency staff yesterday.

The governor said although normal government operations were suspended for the duration of the emergency, government personnel were expected to be at their offices "to cooperate and take all necessary measures to secure all government offices, buildings and all other property."

Although no casualties had so far been reported, the state public information office said there were unconfirmed reports of at least one person missing in Madolenihmw.

Madolenihmw was also temporarily cut off after a landslide closed the road to the municipality. By yesterday afternoon, however, at least one lane of the road had been reopened to traffic.

David also received reports about at least one house and the water system of one section of Nett were washed away. He said state personnel found the couple that owned the house left with nothing but their underclothes.

There were also reports that phone lines in some parts of Nett were down.

Emergency Assistance Officer Dais Lorrin said, however, that no reliable damage estimates were available as of this writing because assessment teams he had sent out had yet to report back. He did say his office continued to receive calls about "damage to dwellings" but that they had decided to see these "public facilities first."

He added that all road-clearing work was expected to be completed by late yesterday afternoon and that crews would be placed on standby because of the continuing emergency.

Nevertheless, Lorrin said measures were also being readied in case of the need to evacuate residents. Evacuees, he said, are normally housed in schools. David and several other state officials said they were surprised by the ferocity of the Wednesday night rains.

The governor himself recounted being tied up for as long as a half hour at a time on his way home Wednesday by long lines of cars unable to cross overflowing bridges.

People who attended a funeral near Palikir said knee-deep floods rushed through the cooking house and washed away all the firewood.

October 31, 2003

Marianas Variety: www.mvariety.com


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